The Right Call on Rice

Removing herself from consideration for secretary of state is a setback for her -- but a good move for Obama.

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After all, even though Rice was one of Obama’s early backers, Obama probably owes Kerry just as much politically as he does her — because it was Kerry who gave then-unknown state Sen. Obama his break on the national stage by tapping the future president to be the keynoter at Kerry’s 2004 nominating convention.

And even though the optics are bad for both Obama and Republicans — installing an older white guy as his top diplomat instead of an impeccably credentialed African-American woman — this isn’t a case where there’s a barrier break at issue: Three of the last four secretaries of state have been women, and two of the last three have been black.

In that light, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a rational political calculation by a president about to embark on a second term that will likely include heated budget battles, a tough withdrawal from Afghanistan, contested Supreme Court appointments and the painstaking implementation of its much-maligned health care reform: far bigger fish to fry than a lengthy nomination battle over Susan Rice.

David Swerdlick is a contributing editor to The Root. Follow him on Twitter.